Geek chic and cross stitch are a match made in heaven. All those tiny pixels are basically just stitches waiting to happen, so retro gaming cross stitch is simple to do. Settle yourself down and in a few short hours, you'll have whipped yourself up a Tetris iPhone case that will be the envy of all your geeky friends.
Don't worry if you've never cross stitched before - I'll let you into a trade secret - it's really easy. If you can count and have basic motor skills, then cross stitch is for you!
- Rubber iPhone case with pre-punched holes
- Embroidery thread (sometimes called floss)
- Embroidery needle
- Cross stitch chart
Aside from the case, you don't need to go nuts and spring for a lot of fancy equipment. You can use any embroidery thread you might have lying around - you can choose whatever colours you like. I've used Anchor brand threads in colours I already had. You can find embroidery thread online, in all good craft shops and even in some supermarkets these days.
I'd recommend using an embroidery needle as they have blunt points - less chance of pricking your finger! It's still sharp enough to puncture the rubber case, don't worry.
This chart shows you the pattern for all of the shapes from the Tetris game. You can plot a chart out in advance or choose where to put the shapes as you go - just like the game!
The beauty of this project is that you can fill as much or as little of the case as you like. You can even stitch some now and some more later, if that takes your fancy.
Step 1. Getting Started
To get started, decide where on your case you'd like to start stitching. I've started with a white base at the bottom. Because you're stitching onto a rubber case, you want the stitches to be ultra-secure, so this tutorial breaks all the rules and use knots to anchor the stitching. I can hear the cross-stitching purists reaching for the smelling salts from here, but trust me, for phone cases, knots mean your stitching will be far more durable than the traditional method (and who wants to be a goody two-shoes anyway?).
Step 2. Threading Up
Take the white thread and cut a piece around 30cm (12 inches) long. Embroidery thread is made up of six strands of thread twisted together, but we only need two strands at a time. Gently separate two strands from the thread by untwisting and gently running your finger down the thread, pulling it apart.
Thread your needle with the 2 strands and tie a nice secure knot in the end.
Step 3. First Stitches
Take your threaded needle to the underside of the case and find the bottom left corner of the first square you want to create a stitch in. Poke your needle through the rubber and carefully draw the thread through. Take it easy - don't pull too hard or you'll get your thread tangled or draw your knot through, too.
Find the top right hole of the square and poke your needle through from the top side of the case and, again, carefully pull the thread through.
To keep your stitches neat and tidy, try to complete whole rows of colour at a time. To move on to the next stitch, just do the first stitch again, one square over and keep going in that vein until you come to the end of the row.
Step 4. Second Legs
Now you have a whole row of half stitches, you need to complete them. Take your needle and find the bottom right hole of the last square you just stitched. Bring the thread from the underside of the case and draw the thread through. Then poke your needle back through from the top side through the top left hole of the square.
Continue along the row until you're back where you started. Look, Ma! A whole row of stitches!
Step 5. Switching Thread Colours
Carry on and complete the base with another row of stitches above the one you've just done. You'll run out of thread eventually. When you only have a little bit left, with the thread on the underside of the case, weave your needle in and out of the back of some of your stitches. This will secure the thread underneath your stitching. It won't be visible from the top side of the case. Simply snip the loose end to tidy it up. You can do this when you need to switch colours, too.
Step 6. Shaping Up
So, now you're ready to start adding Tetris shapes. Pick a shape and choose where you want to put it. It might help here to count the number of squares on the case and make a note, so you can choose which shapes will fit where. I've started with a long blue rectangle.
Simply repeat the steps above to thread your needle in your chosen colour and complete the stitches in rows.
Then keep adding shapes! You've got the hang of it by now - just keep stitching blocks of colour and you can't go far wrong.
Step 7. End Game
Once you're happy with the shapes you want to stitch, finish your game off with a falling shape. You can position it anywhere you like and orientate it any way you like. This really adds to the "game in progress" feel of this project.
Et viola! You're done - easy, wasn't it? Remember if you fancy finishing your game at a later date, you can simply go back and stitch a few more blocks once you've worked out your strategy.
Tip: Don't grip the case too tightly when stitching, as it can distort the rubber, making it a looser fit when you're finished. Some warping is to be expected - once you put the case on the phone, it will settle down after a while.
To minimise this, try turning the case upside down every once in a while, so you're stitching from a different end and holding the case in a different place. Keep a relaxed grip - no cross stitch claws!
Try not to get your case wet - it won't thank you for it. Most embroidery threads are colour-fast, but I wouldn't recommend taking it out in the rain.
You should expect your case to be slightly "baggy" when you're done. It will settle down over time as it moulds more to your phone, but bear in mind that rubber cases don't fit as snugly as hard cases. The underside of your stitching will flatten down and allow a better fit after a while.